I’m writing this as I’m watching updates on the Troy Davis execution, so excuse me if I seem angry.
What I find most interesting about the Wife of Bath is how she is seen as a feminist leader by many. Yes, she is a strong woman in a time where women are practically considered less than human, but does that strength alone make her a feminist? It seems sometimes that the Wife of Bath is the horrible archetype of a feminist. She wants women to have power over men instead of equality. Most feminists would agree that we don’t want to have power over men. I would hope that most feminist wouldn’t agree, in all seriousness, with the abuse that the Wife of Bath doles on her first four husbands. She manipulates men using her sexuality. Does that mean that she is independent, or does that mean that she is simply using one of the powers that she has realized against men for her own benefits?
After she takes such pride in her strength, she does not fight against her fifth husband, who abuses her. She says that she loves her husband, and it seems to be true since she blesses his soul and she stays with him despite the fact that he is penniless and station-less and a generally a abusive jerk. He is just a clerk, and one that doesn’t seem to appreciate or respect women too much, even though he’s being provided for by the Wife of Bath.
That one goddamn book that he keeps reading is just about the most offensive book a husband can read to his wife. How long does it take before the Wife of Bath actually does something against her husband? She’s illiterate, but is able to recite tales from the Books of Wicked Wives. That makes me think that she’s heard these stories many many times before, enough to memorize them. Even the way that she responds is so destructive and abusive. This shouldn’t be what we consider a feminist; this is what we should consider a woman scorned against society, or, as we find out, a woman taught by her mother to manipulate. I really question her motives as to why she fights and tries to abuse her husbands. She seems really hedonistic in general. Is it just because she doesn’t allow a man to abuse and mistreat her that we say that she’s a feminist? How do her actions and motivations support that notion? In my opinion, they don’t seem to. I wouldn’t say she’s an anti-feminist, but this isn’t a case of “either-or”.